Afghanistan: TAPI Pipeline, Imperialist Rivalry Make U.S. Troop Withdrawal Impossible

Obama and his war counselors continue to engage in a tactical debate over the length and duration of the occupation in Afghanistan, as noted in the June 6 New York Times. But the United States’ long-term strategic necessity to protect this valuable real estate was made plain in a brutal terror attack one week earlier.

On May 28, U.S. bombs killed five girls, seven boys, and two women as they slept in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, one of the devastated areas (along with Kandahar province) that lie along the path of the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline. At the time, U.S. puppet Afghan president Karzai was off in neighboring Turkmenistan, negotiating details of TAPI. The killings stem directly from this deal and exemplify the anti-worker violence inherent in capitalist competition.

Obama & Co. ordered the Helmand strike in retaliation for the death of a Marine whose job was to help secure the pipeline. It makes little difference whether the targeting was accidental or deliberate. Either way, U.S. rulers have been indiscriminately killing innocent civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq for three decades. Their willingness to slaughter millions in this imperial exploit ranks with Hitler’s terrorist V-2 rocket raids on London and the U.S. holocausts in Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki.

We shouldn’t sell liberals like Obama short in their capacity for brutal terror. As Madeline Albright acknowledged in 2000 regarding the death of half a million Iraqi children from U.S.-imposed sanctions, “This is a very hard choice, but we think the price is worth it.”

U.S. Rulers’ Strategic Need to
Occupy Afghanistan

Since the days of Bill Clinton, U.S. imperialists have treasured the notion of a gas route through Afghanistan. In 1998, U.S. Unocal (now owned by Chevron) stood on the brink of a pipeline contract with the Taliban, the local force that the U.S. armed to the teeth, enabling them to rule the country.

But the fundamentalist Taliban double-crossed its U.S. bosses — twice. First, the Taliban rejected Unocal and inked a pact with Argentine energy conglomerate Bridas (now half-owned by China). Second, the Taliban played host to al Qaeda, another U.S. creation-turned-enemy. In response, following plans drawn up long before 9/11, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001.

Today, Taliban forces challenge U.S. occupiers for control of TAPI. But as important as this potential energy bonanza may be, it’s the prospect of future wars against far more threatening rivals that motivates the Pentagon’s Afghan effort. As Khalil Nouri, a member of U.S. imperialists’ Afghanistan Study Group, boasts,  “[TAPI] consolidates NATO’s political and military presence in the strategic high plateau that overlooks Russia, Iran, India, Pakistan and China….TAPI proves a perfect setting for the alliance’s future projection of military power for ‘crisis management’ in Central Asia” (, 5/19/11).

In other words, TAPI offers both control over critical energy resources and a military beachhead for future U.S. interventions in the area.

Forget About Obama’s
Afghan Pull-out

These long-term geopolitical factors explain why the liberal Brookings Institution boosts VP Biden’s Afghan plan that “would keep an average of perhaps 50,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan over the coming year, 30,000 the following year and 20,000 in the country thereafter, indefinitely” (Brookings website, 6/3/11).

Meanwhile, Obama’s outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke doubletalk to say that U.S. troops in Afghanistan weren’t going anywhere soon: “Between the successes we have already enjoyed and the increased capacity of the Afghan forces, we are in a position — based on conditions on the ground, as the president has said — to consider some modest drawdowns beginning in July” (USA Today, 6/5/11). Translation: Because of U.S. failures and the incompetence of Afghan forces, GIs will remain in Afghanistan for a long time.

So the carnage will continue. It will stop only when its root cause — the profits that come from military control of resources or strategic advantage over capitalist rivals — is demolished. We need a communist revolution to destroy the current dog-eat-dog system and replace it with egalitarian, working-class rule.J


CIA Created Taliban

(This is an excerpt from an interview in 2000 from the Indian Times where a U.S. crony exposes the CIA creation of the Taliban. )

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) worked in tandem with Pakistan to create the “monster” that is today…Taliban, a leading US expert on South Asia said here.

“I warned them that we were creating a monster,” Selig Harrison from the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars said at the conference…on “Terrorism and Regional Security: Managing the Challenges in Asia.”

Harrison said: “The CIA made a historic mistake in encouraging Islamic groups from all over the world to come to Afghanistan.” The U.S. provided $3 billion for building up these Islamic groups, and it accepted Pakistan’s demand that they should decide how this money should be spent, Harrison said….he had meetings with CIA leaders at the time when Islamic forces were being strengthened in Afghanistan. “They told me these people were fanatical, and the more fierce they were the more fiercely they would fight the Soviets,” he said. “I warned them that we were creating a monster.”

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